Philips / Magnavox,
überarbeitet am 22.10.2010
In 1982, Philips presented their first shortwave radio with an integrated digital frequency display, the AL-990. Similarly to the Panasonic RF-2200, is has been equipped with a rotable ferrite antenna for long- and mediumwaves to "locate" the transmitter direction, like in other shortwave receivers from that era, it had also a plug-in loop antenna.
In a similar way, as found in Panasonic's RF-2800 / 2900 receivers, the Philips AL-990 is a large portable shortwave radio with handles to protect it's front on both sides of the frontpanel. It's dimensions are 34 x 24 (with the ferrite antenne 28) x 14 cm and it's weight 4,6 kilograms. The cabinet is made from black plastic.
The left third of the frontpanel is been taken by the grill of the quite large speaker. All other controls are arranged in three vertical rows at the right hand.
In the middle vertical row of controls below the frequency dials, You find several switches in the bottom row: The radio's main power switch combined with timer operation switch, the switch for the dial illumination, the switch to select buzzer or radio for timer operation, the AFC switch for automated frequency control on FM and the BFO switch for CW / SSB operation on the shortwaves.
In the right column of controls, You find from the bottom the rotary BFO control, the BFO is activated by the switch next to it. At it's right, You find the R.F. gain control; the huge main tuning knob is equipped with a gear, for fast tuning speed, pull it out slightly. After touching the main tuning control, the digital frequency display is activated for a few seconds by a touch sensor.
There are a few other controls: A sensor touch buttons to turn off the radio's alarm when in timer mode is located at the top face; another panel with several tiny controls for clock and timer control pops out below the speaker.
A rotable ferrite antenna can be used to locate a longwave beacon or to eliminate interference from a co-channel mediumwave station. A shortwave loop a antenna with less directional effect can be plugged in, for transport, it is attached to the rear face of the set.At the left small face of the radio, You find a 6,3 mm headphones jack, at the rear a cassette recorder jack, 12 V and mains power connectors, a switch to change the mediumwave I.F. to reduce interfering noise when doing recordings and screw connectors for shortwave and FM antennas.
The big battery compartment at the rear will fit four UM-1 batteries to power the radio and another two UM-3 batteries to power the clock / timer. The mains cable can be stored in another compartment.
The operation scheme of the Philips AL-990 is not too complicated in spite of the big number of different controls. Turn the radio on with the switch RADIO-ON, to set it to receive Radio Deutsche Welle on 6075 kHz, set the upper bandswitch to SW1-SW5 and the bottom one to SW1. When You touch the main tuning knob, the actual frequency is indicated in the radio's LCD display, tune it to 6.075 MHz. Now You should hear the program coming from Cologne and find the signal strength meter indicating a strong signal. If this is not the case, make sure that the BFO is switched of and the R.F. gain is fully open.
In summary, the Philips AL-990 was a reasonably priced shortwave receiver with many features when it came out - it's shortwave performance equalled the price of the set, so the Philips has been an entry level shortwave receiver for the shortwave listener but not that machine to go for for a shortwave DXer with some ambitions.
Many thanks to OM Mark S. Weiner for sending me the schematics of this radio!
© Martin Bösch, 5.8.2004